Recently a Study carried out by The Centre for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) highlighted that American students who study at online Charter schools make ”dramatically less academic progress than their counterparts in traditional schools” (Education Week, 4th Nov 2015). While the Study focuses on the online Charter schools in America, naturally comparisons to the online provisions in the UK have been called into question with some asking whether they can provide the same standards of learning as mainstream schooling.
The answer is that it depends on the provider; consideration needs to be given to experience in the field, external quality assurance, cohort of students, learner outcomes, method of delivery, opportunities for socialisation and personal development.
Questions to ask when looking for online provision:
At Nisai we offer a personalised and holistic education for our students, who in many cases have come to us as a last resort when all else has failed. We’re an online educational provider with the infrastructure of a mainstream school in terms of student support, exam office, reports and monitoring of progress and attainment. We partner with mainstream schools and local authorities to deliver outcomes for learners who require a complementary approach to education. We put each learner at the centre of their learning experience. Small classes studying at a similar pace and ability, teachers’ understanding of each student’s needs, as well as active encouragement to participate on an individual basis (where appropriate) in real-time sessions, all help learners feel acknowledged and motivated to make progress. Our ‘active presence’ for our learner through personal tutors, subject teachers, access to schemes of work learning plans and a support framework ensures we and the client school or Local Authority, always have a good idea about how each student is doing progressing academically and their situation outside of their studies.
We have been providing online classes for over 12 years and we can be judged by our outcomes and student progress. The Nisai approach achieves results, both academically and personally for each learner; our impact can be felt across every level. In just one academic year, 100% of our Key Stage 3 students improved by two National Curriculum sublevels and 71% improved by one full level. Students in Year 10 & 11 made similar improvements, with 55% improving by one GCSE grade and 42% improving by two GCSE grades. Our cohort of students is more varied and challenging than those found in a mainstream school but every year they are able to sit real and recognised qualifications such as Functional Skills, GCSEs and A Levels. In the last academic year 99% of our students had some kind of barrier to learning. Over 34% had Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties, 27% had previously been excluded, and 33% had some form of medical illness, yet our focus remains on achieving outcomes and routes for progression. Even with their challenges, over 40% of our students improved by 2 GCSE or A Level grades during a single academic year studying with us.
Our high-quality delivery is recognised externally by the Secretary of State through our inclusion on the Section 41 List of approved providers, our Edubase listing for learners aged 10 – 25, and our inclusion on the Skills Funding Agency Register of Training Organisations. We were also Ofsted Inspected ‘Good’ (2014) at our Learning Hub in Nottingham and were winner of the GESS Award for SEN resources 2015. When our blended learning Hub in Nottingham was Ofsted Inspected (2014), we were praised for our students’ attainment levels in English and Maths, with the report stating: “Students make good progress with their learning, mostly starting from low levels of previous attainment. They develop skills in English and Mathematics which prepare them well to move on to further education and employment.” Bearing in mind that many the students at Nisai Learning have been excluded, have a special educational need or tackle complicated family lives, 100% of our most recent year 11 students left to go on to college, an apprenticeship or full-time employment.
The Study also highlighted the lack of interaction between teacher and student both in and out of the classroom, but at Nisai there are clubs and societies, guest speakers and special events where learners can share and discuss their hobbies and interests outside of lessons within the Nisai platform. This is yet another way that Nisai seeks to value its leaners on an individual level. One Post 16 student recently said: “Since starting my lessons, I'm actually a heck of a lot more social now. It's made me more confident not only in the learning environment but also in day-to-day life.”
For more information, please email us.